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4/15/11 Got problems with wind turbines? Who ya gonna call? AND Big trouble in little Town of Forest AND Wind developers give you two choices: Take it or Take it. We're not turning them off AND Place your bets: Will wind developers turn off turbines to protect Birds and Bats?  

WIND GENERATORS STILL CAUSING PROBLEMS

SOURCE Fond du Lac Reporter, www.fdlreporter.com

April 14, 2011

I live about 2,100 feet from a wind generator and had experienced interference on my television as soon as it went into operation.

Cedar Ridge Wind Farm made arrangements to remedy the interference. I was given two years of basic Satellite TV service at no cost.

Then, I received a notice that Alliant, owners of the wind farm, had decided to grant us compensation equal to the cost of getting only the Green Bay local channels. All I needed to do was to sign a “Release of Claim,” which states in part “the undersigned… hereby fully and forever releases and discharges Wisconsin Power and Light … from any and all claims, demands, actions and/or rights … arising from…”

The three paragraphs protect Alliant forever in every way from any future actions. There is no mention of what we might expect in the coming years.

Does this sound like a good faith effort to correct a wrong done to those of us who have no commercial interest in the wind farms?

Feeling put upon by Alliant following both written and oral communications with their representative, last February I proceeded to contact my local Assembly representative, Richard Spanbauer. I received a letter from him stating, “The Joint Rules Committee recently held a public hearing about the proposed rules changes.”

He offered no suggestions regarding the restraints Alliant is imposing upon us.

Sensing that I might get a better response from our native son, U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, I delivered copies of all correspondence to his office in Fond du Lac. No response. I sent an email to him reminding him of my concern. No response.

I suppose my next attempt at obtaining fair treatment from Alliant would be to file a class action. Why must it come to that?

Allan Loehndorf

Town of Empire

FOREST RESIDENTS CONTINUE FEUD OVER WIND TURBINES

SOURCE: Pierce County Herald, www.piercecountyherald.com

April 14, 2011

Jeff Holmquist

The Town of Forest has been a quiet, rural community for much of its long history. But these days there is an atmosphere of unrest throughout the township, thanks in part to a proposed wind farm proposal that has been debated over the past couple years.

Supporters of the wind energy idea and opponents have been feuding over an agreement with Emerging Energies LLC to place up to 39 wind turbines on private properties. The agreement would pay landowners and residents within a half mile of each turbine an annual payment. The township and county would also have received annual payments.

“Residents and landowners are either for or against this,” said Jaime Junker, newly elected town board chairman. “There really is no in between ground. The division line is fairly well divided between people who would get compensated by the project and those who would not.”

Emerging Energies has been studying wind speeds in the St. Croix County township for more than two years. The Forest area was found to be a favorable location for large wind turbines due to sustained winds in the area.

The company’s research shows that average wind speeds are about 16 to 17 mph, which is sufficient to turn a large turbine and thus generate electricity.

According to the original plans, the turbine system would have been hooked up to a new or existing electric substation and the power would have ended up on the grid.

While there was support for the idea among some residents and the Forest Town Board during the initial planning stages, a number of residents are less than happy with the project.

A citizens group, called the “Forest Voice,” formed in an attempt to stop the project from moving forward.

The group filed a federal lawsuit on Feb. 9, 2011, claiming that the Town Board had bypassed open meeting law requirements to push through an agreement with Emerging Energies. The group also claimed that several board members should not have participated in the vote for the wind farm plan as they or their relatives stood to gain financially from the project.

The disgruntled Town of Forest residents also petitioned for a recall election of the former town board members. All of the challengers eventually won election to the board. The support of the majority of the residents was reaffirmed last Tuesday when wind turbine opponent Jaime Junker was re-elected as town chairman, and newly elected Patrick Scepurek and Richard Steinberger were returned to their supervisor positions.

After gaining office, the new board members voted on March 17 to rescind the wind energy development agreements, driveway permits and other approvals that had been granted to a wind developer. The board also approved a temporary stay on the location and construction of the turbines in the township.

According Forest Voice’s Attorney Glenn Stoddard, most Town of Forest residents were “completely unaware” that the former town board members had approved an agreement in 2008 and another one on Aug. 12, 2010, to proceed with the proposed wind energy project.

A postcard announcing the project was the first many heard about the plan, he claimed.

No public hearing was ever held by the defendants during a three-year development period, he further claimed.

The opponents of the wind project allege that the proposed wind energy project would destroy their quality of life and have adverse health and safety impacts on them.

Despite the fact that the agreements have been rescinded and the town board has been replaced, Stoddard said the federal lawsuit is likely to continue. He said Emerging Energies has indicated that it may seek legal action in an effort to continue with the previously approved project.

Officials with Emerging Energies did not want to comment on the Forest project when contacted.

Junker said many expect the company to seek a legal opinion in the matter.

“Now it’s pretty much a wait and see situation,” he said. “It’s hard to predict what the short term future is going to be.”

Whatever the future holds, residents on both sides of the issue say they are frustrated by the continuing feud over wind turbines.

“What has happened in our township is heartbreaking and has left many residents feeling betrayed,” said Brenda Salseg, a property owner and managing member of the Forest Voice LLC.

“Those of us who researched industrial wind turbines found disturbing evidence of health, safety and property devaluation issues associated with so-called wind farms when turbines are sited too close to homes. It’s all about what is profitable rather than responsible, which is what I thought green energy is supposed to be.”

Salseg said it’s unfair to force wind turbine opponents to live near such a large project.

“The statement we continually hear that wind energy is green, clean and renewable is nothing more than deception,” she said.

Gary Heinbuch, who continues to be a supporter of the wind project, said the atmosphere in Forest is now “as foul as can be.”

“It’s neighbor against neighbor. It’s niece against uncle,” he said. “I never thought it would get this bad.”

Rick Heibel, 53, who signed an agreement to have three turbines sited on his 240 acres, agreed.

“It’s gotten way more heated than I ever thought it would,” he said. “I never thought it would get this divisive.”

Heibel, who has lived his entire life on the farm that was first settled by his grandfather 99 years ago, said he remains convinced that the wind project would be good for him and for the town.

The annual payments to landowners and local units of government would mean a lot, he said.

“It would greatly enhance my retirement,” Heibel said. “Right now, my retirement is Social Security. All my savings is in my land, and I don’t want to sell my land. It would make my standard of living more comfortable.”

Apart from the financial benefits, Heibel said wind generation just makes sense.

He said all energy generation methods have their drawbacks. The burning of coal contributes to global warming and the mining of coal harms the land, he noted. With the ongoing disaster in Japan, Heibel wonders if more nuclear plants are a good idea. Even natural gas has its problems, he added.

“With wind, I think it’s one of the least damaging forms of generation as far as the environment goes,” he said.

Next Story

BPA, WIND DEVELOPERS ARGUE OVER LOOMING PROBLEM OF TOO MUCH POWER FROM RENEWABLES

SOURCE: The Oregonian, www.oregonlive.com

April 14 2011

By Ted Sickinger,

Under pressure from wind developers and investor-owned utilities around the region, the Bonneville Power Administration this week backed away from a plan to start pulling the plug on wind turbines when it has too much water and wind energy at the same time.

BPA Administrator Steve Wright is still reviewing a controversial plan to occasionally “curtail” wind farms in the region, a move the federal power-marketing agency has said is necessary to maintain grid reliability, protect migrating salmon and avoid passing big costs onto its public utility customers.

Wind developers and utilities who buy their output say such shutdowns are discriminatory, will breach transmission agreements and compromise wind-farm economics because the projects rely on lucrative production tax credits and the sale of renewable energy credits that are generated only when turbine blades are spinning.

They also maintain the plan is simply unnecessary, a sop to public utility customers that can be solved by other means.

In one sense, the debate is simply the latest wrinkle in the perennial debate over who should bear the costs and benefits of operating the federal hydroelectric dams and transmission system. But it illustrates the growing complexity of integrating into the grid intermittent sources of renewable energy.

“This is going to be a major issue for the region,” said John Saven, chief executive of the Northwest Requirements Utilities, a trade group representing 50 public utilities that buy their power from the BPA. “We’re in the first inning.”

The capacity of wind farms connected to the BPA’s transmission network has ballooned from 250 megawatts in 2005 to more than 3,500 today and is expected to double again in the next two years. That outstrips demand growth in the region and is being driven in large part by California utilities, which are required to meet a third of their customers’ electricity needs with renewables by 2020.

Oregon and Washington have their own mandates, but more than half the wind power generated in the Northwest is sold under long-term contact to California. Congested transmission often means the only things exported are the associated renewable energy certificates that buyers use to comply with state mandates. The electricity often stays in the region, dumped into this region’s wholesale market, depressing prices for electricity from all sources.

Grid balance

The BPA, which operates 75 percent of the high-voltage transmission grid in the region, is responsible for balancing the minute-to-minute variations in supply and demand on the grid. The agency says growing wind capacity requires it to reserve more of its hydro generation as backup reserves, either to fill in for scheduled electricity when the wind isn’t blowing or back off hydro production when wind-farm output is higher than scheduled.

The BPA charges wind farms for that flexibility. But it says there’s only so much it can absorb before those reserves start to compromise regular operations.

Overgeneration typically occurs in the spring and early summer, when snow runoff and heavy rains combine to increase hydro generation and the same storm fronts rapidly ramp wind turbines. The BPA says the dam operators have only limited flexibility to dial back hydro generation to accommodate wind surges because dumping water through the dams’ spillways raises dissolved nitrogen levels in the river, which can harm migrating fish.

The result, BPA officials say, is that the agency is left with more power than regional customers need or that an already congested transmission system can ship out of the region.

“Eventually, you just run out of places to put it,” said Doug Johnson, a BPA spokesman.

Long-term fixes

The BPA has worked during the past two years — some say been pushed and dragged — to accommodate more wind by improving forecasting and transmission scheduling. Adding transmission or new storage is a potential solution, as is transferring the responsibility for balancing some of the variable supply and demand to other utilities. But those are expensive, long-term fixes.

Meanwhile, new wind farms keep mushrooming on the Columbia Plateau, exacerbating the problem. Last June, high wind and water nearly forced the BPA into “negative pricing,” when it is forced to pay utilities and independent power producers in the region to shut down their plants and take BPA power instead.

That’s expensive for wind farms, where the cost of curtailment is not just replacement power, but the loss of production tax credits and renewable energy tags they generate when operating. The BPA recently estimated the combined impact at $37 a megawatt hour.

That’s not a price the BPA or its public utility customers want to pay.

Wind producers are the Johnnys-come-lately to the Northwest’s energy scene. But they argue that any move to single them out and curtail their production is discriminatory and violates the equal-access provisions of the laws governing the federal transmission system.

They have the support of Oregon’s Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Sen. Jeff Merkley, two Democrats who have criticized the agency in the past for dragging its feet on wind issues.

The BPA has backed away from formally implementing the wind-curtailment plan, a move that renewables advocates applauded. But it hasn’t come up with an alternative.

Next Story

´╗┐BIRDS & BATS VS BLADES

SOURCE: Prince George Free Press, www.bclocalnews.com

April 14 2011

By Allan Wishart -

What happens when a bird or a bat gets involved with a wind turbine?

It’s not usually a good result for the animal, UNBC instructor Ken Otter told a Cafe Scientifique audience at Cafe Voltaire on Wednesday evening.

Otter, an instructor in the ecosystem science and management program, said people have been researching the idea that wind farms and birds have a collision problem.

“Most research suggests the problem is not much worse than with other tall structures, such as high-rise buildings or radio towers,” he said in an interview with the Free Press, “but certain species seem at a higher risk.”

Most of the at-risk species are migratory birds, which may encounter the turbines on their regular route, and “soaring” birds.

“These are species which make use of a lot of updrafts when they’re flying, birds like hawks or eagles and cranes.”

With the wind-farm technology still relatively new in Canada, the opportunity is there to work with industry to make it as safe as possible for the animals, he said.

“What we’re finding s it doesn’t take much to make the farms safer for birds. A lot of it is looking at weather patterns.”

Generally, he said, the birds are flying at elevations well above the turbines. Sometimes, however, a weather pattern will push them lower, to where they may be at risk.

“We can plot out the tracks of their migrations and see how they use the ridges and rises. That allows us to predict where the patterns will occur, and we can get very specific information.”

How specific? Otter says in some cases it could be a question of just idling one turbine in a group for a few minutes to allow a flock of birds to get by.

“Most of the turbines can be idled in about two minutes. It might just be a question of having someone out there to keep an eye on the conditions and, if needed, call back to the main operation and ask them to shut one of the turbines down for a few minutes.”

Otter said a University of Calgary study found bats ran into a different problem when it came to wind turbines.

“They have very thin walls in their lungs, and a lot of capillaries to distribute the blood. the study found groups of sometimes hundreds of bats dead near a turbine, but with no contusions on their body to indicate they had been hit by one of the vanes.”

Autopsies showed the capillaries had burst inside the bats. This led researchers to take a look at how the turbines affected wind pressure in their area.

“What happens with any fan is there is a low-pressure area created right behind the vanes. The bats were coming into this area, and their capillaries were bursting because of the sudden drop in pressure.”

Again, the solution may be as simple as varying the speed the vanes turn at to ease the drop in pressure.

And, he says, the industry seems to be willing to look at making these changes.

“We’re working with them, showing them how these small changes can keep the birds and bats safe, and they’re listening.”

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